Surviving winter and spring

Grey partridges at a feederModern farmland is a hungry place for birds. The combine harvester leaves little spilt grain for seed-eaters and early cultivation for winter crops means that the rest of the grain, along with any weed seeds, is quickly buried. Further, many farms are now specialised arable enterprises and partridge coveys have lost the opportunity to share food provided for livestock wintering outdoors. Nevertheless, the young shoots of winter corn are themselves a source of food.

Much modern farmland is not only hungry, it is bare too. Partridges need some cover, both as shelter from the worst of the winter rain and gales, as well as to hide from predators.

Provided with food and cover, partridges can withstand the cold - they survive very well, for example, on the Russian steppe and Canadian prairies, where temperatures are extreme.

Dos and don’ts for farmers

Do  Plant seed-bearing game crops such as kale or quinoa and cereal in open areas where partridges are likely to be and not close to woodland.
Do  Leave stubbles as long as possible before ploughing. Stubbles following an undersown crop are particularly valuable because they remain uncultivated through the spring within the ley.
Do  Put out bird feeders designed for partridges in places where there is nesting cover and overhead cover to hide from predators. Supplementary feeding is now funded under the stewardship scheme.
Do  Use the stewardship schemes to provide food with a kale-quinoa mixture left for two years. In winter and spring this provides food and protection from predators.
Don't  Don’t spray stubbles indiscriminately, but consider selective herbicides that will knock out noxious weeds while leaving the others as partridge food.
Don't  Avoid planting new woodland in open areas suitable for grey partridges.

Get your FREE Grey Partridge Conservation Guide

An essential guide to conserving the grey partridge produced by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust.

What's inside your FREE guideGreypartpages

✓ The decline of a common farmland bird
✓ A safe place to nest - plenty of tussocky grass
✓ Chick survival - insect food is crucial
✓ Surviving winter and spring - food and cover
✓ Conservation targets - Partridge Count Scheme
✓ Grey partridges and shooting
✓ Common questions

 

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